The U.S. Department of Interior on Tuesday named a longtime employee to the agency’s second-in-command acting position after the previous deputy secretary stepped down this month.
Laura Daniel-Davis will be acting deputy secretary effective Oct. 31. She replaces Tommy Beaudreau.
Daniel-Davis has been leading land and minerals management for the department, where she has been for more than 14 years nonconsecutively under the Obama-Biden and Clinton-Gore administrations.
She has worked on early permitting of offshore wind projects, ecosystem restoration and response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Daniel-Davis also worked in advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation and for Latham & Watkins, a global law firm, as a policy manager before coming to the federal government for the first time in 2009.
“The work of the Department of the Interior touches all Americans, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Acting Deputy Secretary,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to work in partnership with states, Tribes, industry, non-profit organizations and academia to ensure that the best available science guides our decision-making as we deliver on our promises to the American people.”
In the months and years ahead, Interior will be busy carrying out a number of regulatory changes to update the onshore federal oil and gas leasing program, apply land health standards to public lands, maintain broadband infrastructure on tribal lands and implement its piece of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
Interior is also facing pressure to ensure wildland firefighters retain their temporary pay raise provided by the infrastructure law.
In other areas, the department is facing talent shortages, much like the rest of government. In its 2024 budget brief, the agency said by the end of 2020, staffing was at a 10-year low. The agency requested $25 million for increasing manpower for the National Park Service, U.S. Park Police and special agents.
Beaudreau cited wanting to spend more time with family after serving the department for nearly a decade, reported The Washington Post.
In general, agencies’ deputy secretary positions require Senate confirmation in order to be finalized.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.